Maintenance can be granted as part of the divorce order or a maintenance order. It may be for a wife/ ex-wife/ incapacitated husband/ incapacitated ex-husband or child. In the event that the paying party defaults on maintenance payments, what can you do? Enforcement of maintenance orders in Singapore is something that you should consider seriously.
Enforcement of Maintenance Orders in Singapore
You may prepare your draft application via the iFAMS (Integrated Family Application Management Systems) first. This is not mandatory. However, it will save you some time if you do it online. To prepare your draft application via the iFAMS system, you will need to log in via your SingPass ID. After you log in you will need to upload the following documents:
1. The maintenance order/ divorce Court order that you are seeking an enforcement on.
2. Your identification document such as your NRIC or passport.
There is a nominal fee of S$1 that you will need to pay to file an application to seek the enforcement of maintenance orders in Singapore.
After preparing your draft application on the iFAMS portal, you may proceed to one of the following organizations to have your documents verified and submit your application:
If you did not submit your draft application online, you may also submit your application at one of the above locations. However, it takes up more time to do so. After the submission of your application for enforcement of maintenance orders in Singapore, you will go before a District Judge at the Family Court either in-person or via video-link (if the application is not made at the Family Justice Courts Registry). You will have to affirm/ swear (depending on your religion) that the contents of your application are true and accurate. You will also answer any question which the District Judge has for you.
Assuming that the application is in order, a summons will be issued by the District Judge to the paying party. The summons will indicate a date for a first Court hearing. You will need to pay a nominal S$1 for the summons to be issued. Thereafter, the summons will be served on the paying party.
The following scenarios may occur:
1. Scenario 1: the paying party does not show up in Court. A warrant of arrest can be issued against him/ her.
2. Scenario 2: the paying party shows up in Court. If the paying party consents to the application, a Court order can be made pursuant to the agreement.
3. Scenario 3: the paying party shows up in Court. If the paying party does not consent to the application, parties may be sent for mediation. If mediation succeeds, a Court order can be made pursuant to the mediated agreement. If mediation fails, the case will proceed to trial.
Before making the application for enforcement of maintenance orders in Singapore, you should also prepare the following:
1. A table showing the months in which maintenance is not paid in full and how much is owed.
2. Bank statements evidencing the non-payment.
3. Supporting receipts of expenses for which reimbursements are allowed.
After Success Application for Enforcement of Maintenance Orders in Singapore
The paying party will be ordered to pay the outstanding balance of maintenance owed. Such an order will indicate the quantum of maintenance owed and whether the amount should be paid in instalments or in one lump sum.
Under Section 71 of the Women’s Charter, fine and/ or imprisonment may be imposed on the defaulting party.
The defaulting party may also be sent for financial counselling, unpaid community services for up to 40 hours or be subject to an attachment of earnings order (i.e. for the defaulter party’s employer to directly pay to the receiving party). You may also get a credit bureau to list the debt in the defaulting party credit’s report, making it difficult for him/ her to sign up for hire-purchase schemes or take up loans in the future.
What Else Can Be Done?
Even if the defaulting party defaults on maintenance payments, you should continue to follow other aspects of the Court order, such as access to the defaulting party.
In the event that there is a prolonged period of non-payment, you may wish to seek a variation of the Court order to require the defaulting party to pay the maintenance amount in one lump sum to avoid the hassle of making frequent trips to the Family Courts Registry to seek enforcement of maintenance orders in Singapore.
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